Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

This past weekend, War for the Planet of the Apes made a trilogy out of one of the most unexpectedly satisfying and successful reboots of recent vintage. To get ourselves warmed up for this third round of nihilistic monkey business, the Alternate Ending crew revisited the first two films that got us to this point: 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

In worth mentioning, Tim discusses The Big Sick which is one of Carrie’s top 5 anticipated movies of the Summer. Meanwhile, Carrie and Rob return the favor taking on one of Tim’s top 5 anticipated movies of the Summer with The Beguiled.

23 Responses so far.

  1. Johnzilla2179 says:

    The original Planet Of The Apes is iconic for a reason, and even having rewatched it as recently as last week, I feel that it has held up quite well (all things considered).

    The two reboot films are by far the best thing the franchise has spat out since that initial film, in my opinion. They benefit from heightened stakes and a much more personal emotional register; Caesar is one of the most sympathetic protagonists anchoring a big budget franchise these days, I’d say. He’s rather well-developed and embodied to the hilt by Andy Serkis. His eyes alone are wondrous in their expressiveness…

    It might be an unpopular opinion, but I’d take Tim Burton’s remake over some of the original sequels and their nonsense. It was goofy and over the top, but Tim Roth was pretty great as General Thade (though, like everything else, he could have been turned down a notch), as is the production design and Rick Baker’s makeup. It’s not very good on the whole, but I don’t think it’s as bad as it’s reputation.

    • Though you guys didn’t go in depth on all of the films, I greatly enjoyed this episode. Having revisited the entire series and also screened the newest entry, I’d rank the Apes films as follows:
      1. Planet of the Apes (1968)
      2. War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)*
      3. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)
      4. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
      5. Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)
      6. Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)
      7. Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)
      8. Planet of the Burtons (2001)
      9. Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)

      Overall, I rank Escape, Conquest and Battle about on par with one another, each with their own strengths and drawbacks, so I just deferred to release order. None of the original sequels are “great” films, I’d say, though all but the second strike me as worth their salt. As for Beneath, I hate to pull the expectations card, but the mutant humans were so far left field from what I wanted from a sequel to the original film that it was frankly off-putting to the point of pure vitriol. It took some chances and I give it credit for that, and the ending is admittedly great, but I don’t find it to be enjoyable once the characters actually venture underground (which is generally the point at which some fans claim the film “gets good”). I still don’t think that Burton’s film is as bad as everyone makes it out to be (and apparently “it’s not that bad” is my party line around here), though I misspoke a bit when comparing it with the majority of the original sequels. It’s more of a dispiriting mediocrity at most points than outright horsecrap (one of those decent tentpoles that goes in one eye and out the other), but I at least understand why many fans hate it. There are some things I like quite a bit about it, but an equal amount of maddening elements weigh it down. The three reboot films are, of course, the best since the original film. War is the only one that’s given the original a serious run for its money, and it’s actually better in many ways I wasn’t expecting. It’s certainly a more emotionally satisfying film, but it’ll never hold the same cultural value so I think that relegates it to second place by default. I’m hesitant by nature to throw a newer film in a franchise above the best classic entries on principle, particularly when one is so fresh, but War is good enough for some serious consideration (the wife and I will be going for a second screening sometime soon). I haven’t seen the live-action series in well over a decade, but I recall being suitably entertained. I’ve not seen hide nor hair of the animated series, and nothing I’ve ever heard about it has made me the least bit interested in seeking it out.

      Also, as I’m generally amused by film trivia, I’d like to point out that Andy Serkis (Caesar) also performed the motion capture for the titular character in Peter Jackson’s King Kong, whereas Toby Kebbell (Koba) helped out with the motion capture as well as playing a live action role in Kong: Skull Island. And all of these characters are obviously apes. Yay!

      • Carrie Jarosinski Carrie Jarosinski says:

        Thanks for the reminder on how it would have been virtually impossible to get through the full series in 1 week (so many!). I gotta tell ya, your ranking has me pretty jazzed to see War! ๐Ÿ™Š

        • It took us about two weeks to get through all nine films, and again that is ignoring the Planet of the Apes live-action TV series and Return to the Planet of the Apes animated series. But my other half was less than enthused by that schedule as is, to be fair. And I also understand that not everyone has the sort of free time required for binges. I myself would have implored you guys to view the original 1968 film in concert with the two reboot films if only for context, but then again I’m a stickler for revisiting older entries any time a new franchise film is out. It helps — she would probably say hurts — that my wife hasn’t seen most of the films in the franchises I get jazzed about, so it’s not as mercenary as it sounds. But she returns the favor whenever one of her films is on the horizon, so it works out.

          Glad to hear you’re excited to see War. It was very much a great film, in my humble opinion. I’m looking forward to seeing Alternate Ending’s take on it.

  2. Rick Beck says:

    As a kid, my Aunt had the original Planet of the Apes series on VHS. I absolutely fell in love with the series, watching the five films over and over again in a loop for years. It’s sort of fun that the movies can sort of cycle into each other like that, huh? The original is outstanding, and remains among of my favorite science fiction movies. Beneath is a tremendous step downward in quality, but the bits with the mutants, the underground ruins, and the dark-as-hell ending make it quite memorable. Escape is by far the best of the sequels, with a strong, character-driven narrative that asks big questions and features another dark-as-hell ending (these were marketed towards families after all). Conquest has a few great ideas, but it’s not all that emotionally involving. Then we come to Battle, easily the worst of the series and one of the most embarrassing, cheaply-made, and boring films of its kind. This is the one I’d fast-forward through a bit as a kid just to get to that ending, which ambiguously features a crying ape statue. I love the series (and the documentary Behind the Planet of the Apes), so when it was announced that there would be a new film directed by Tim Burton, I was more than ecstatic. I thought the film was alright when I was eleven, but it’s really quite a mess, especially the ending. Then we come to the newest entries, the reboot that chronicles Caesar in the present day and offers an alternative story to explain how the apes became the dominant species on Earth. Rise was very good, in my opinion. The story was focused, the CGI was impressive, and you’ve gotta give it up to Andy Serkis. The sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, is one of my new favorite movies… period. I love the characters, the conflicts, the emotion, the subtext about racism… it’s all just so well done, and it’s married to some very impressive effects that look even better than Rise’s. I’m very much looking forward to War. I can’t wait to hear everyone’s thoughts in the podcast.

  3. WBTN says:

    The original ’68-’73 series is one of my all-time guilty pleasures. Yes, even the original, which is certainly a pretty good if not great movie, though I’ll confess that whenever I watch it I always think in the back of my head ‘How the hell does this work at all?’, from the talky, nihilistic script to the theme-park-ride-entrance-looking sets, from the underpopulated world to the biggest Hollywood hambone as the leading man, from the by-the-numbers filmmaking to… well, that’s a tiny exaggeration, there are some nice landscape shots, but you get the point. Somehow, the mixture of all these elements works like gangbusters (especially Heston, who’s never been better). It can’t all be Jerry Goldsmith and the makeup, can it?

    Anyways, much as I enjoy the older movies (Tim Burton’s the least, not because it’s the worst, but because it’s too competent to be a campy bad movie), I do appreciate that the new ones are genuinely well-crafted, exciting action movies. I’d say they’re better-made films than the original, if not better overall (though I’d likely argue that for Dawn of…)

  4. Yourself says:

    A couple years back a buddy and I worked through the whole series. Generally we thought it was great – the franchise really gets out there and keeps expanding its generic playground, from serious scifi to pulp scifi to dopey comedy to disaster movie to etc.

    Anyway, my ranking from an old blog post:
    #1: Great and stars Charlton Heston: PLANET OF THE APES
    #2: Great but stars James Franco: RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
    #3: Weirdly too entertaining: BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES
    #4: Self-loathing and entertaining: DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
    #5: Vapidly entertaining: BATTLE FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES
    #7: Self-serious retconning crap: CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

    To expand a little bit, the reason I’m not huge on DAWN is that, despite great ape characters and an awesome scope, it is so. set. on being miserable. The only comic relief in the film ends with a dude getting shot in the face. I get that the other movies had veins of darkness, especially in the endings, but Dawn just doesn’t want me to have fun at all. Also, it has 40+ minutes of the most boring and pointless human characters imaginable and I will give $10 to anyone who can even remember their names.

    BATTLE I think gets too much shit for being the only one to set its sights low, but since CONQUEST did such a poor job punching above its weight, I don’t blame them.

    • Tim Brayton Tim Brayton says:

      It’s your “Vapid” on Escape that’s causing me more tsouris than Dawn, honestly. It’s my second-favorite of the original series.

      • Yourself says:

        Weird, maybe I have to revisit it. It’s definitely the one that sticks with me least – all I got out of it was fish out of water comedy.

        • The first half of the film is definitely a lark and it toes the line of grating on one’s nerves, but I think it admirably pulls back near the middle and switches gears. As for the apparent self-loathing of Dawn, I can’t wait to see what you think of War.

  5. Benjamin says:

    I have to confess I’ve never seen any of the originals. My knowledge of them is gleaned almost entirely from that classic musical sequence on The Simpsons.

    I saw the Tim Burton movie when it was in theaters. I thought it was entertaining enough when it came out, but I was a dumb teenager with low standards and I have no desire to revisit it.

    The trailers for Rise made it look like a bad joke, and then it ended up being legitimately good, James Franco aside. Dawn was even better, and contained what was to me a surprisingly nuanced portrait of the fragility of diplomacy, and how the extreme wings on opposite sides, by forcing violent confrontation, end up working together to scuttle ceasefires even as they try to kill each other. I don’t really know how War can possibly top it, but I’m excited all the same.

  6. Rick Rische says:

    Just to jog Tim’s memory- In 2011, the year that Rise of the Planet of the Apes was nominated for the visual effects Oscar, the winner was:


    ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Arlo says:

    By pure coincidence, GKIDS acquired DVD/Blu-Ray rights to the Studio Ghibli catalog earlier today.

    • Robert Jarosinski Robert Jarosinski says:

      Hopefully that means we can get it for under $70! Thanks for the update. We totally spaced our unused Netflix mailer account. It is in the mail…excited to watch it.

  8. Patrick Thatcher says:

    *Glances at brand new Spirited Away Blu-Ray bought before the recording of this podcast from Amazon*

    Huh, guess I messed up ordering through you guys. (BTW it only cost me 20 bucks on Prime Day…)

    • Tim Brayton Tim Brayton says:

      And it looks like it still costs $20 today. Could be that Rob and Carrie just really, really wanted that beautiful Japanese import cover art…

      • Hunter Allen says:

        Yeah, I was surprised to hear you guys say it was effectively unavailable; I bought a copy (presumably the same release Patrick bought) rather recently. Couldn’t have been more than three months ago.

        So, hey: I could part with it if you still need it. I picked it up blind off the strength of its reputation (and a certain someone’s adoration), and I do like it, but I have no special love for it, and possibly for Miyazaki in general. (I’m only mildly charmed by Totoro, too, purchased in the same basket. Catbus is gross and makes me feel gross.) Besides, I owe you for years of movie words.

        (On a related topic, I’m the worst about blind buying things. You’d think I’d quit, given my instincts are far from perfect and I break from consensus enough that a critical wave is no guarantee–turns out I kind of despise The Searchers, for example. But then the habit gets reinforced when I hit paydirt, and blind-buy something like Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion, or The Garden of Words, or–just two days ago!–the Before Trilogy.) (Yes, I know it means I suck that I took two decades to watch Before Sunrise. Also, I’m still sort of presuming that Sunset and Midnight are of the same caliber, but I think I’m safe in thinking that Linklater has them in the bag.)

        • Carrie Jarosinski Carrie Jarosinski says:

          Well geez…maybe it was surge pricing? (Still feeling hesitant over the $19.99, I mean, that’s a lot for a movie that you’re only 24% sure you’ll like).

          And yes, see Sunset/Midnight! Depending on your “life stage” you might even like them better. Sunrise was reminiscent, Midnight was relevant.

  9. Hunter Allen says:

    Or I missed what Rob said. Glad you could get ahold of it. (Want a Searchers blu-ray?)

  10. Gaby Kraml says:

    Hey! This review has nothing to do with the exact content of this particular podcast, but just wanted to say that my boyfriend and I are huge fans of your show!

    So my boyfriend found you guys first, he’s a cinephile who went to film school for his bachelors and masters (he thinks Tim is always right), and then I am a casual movie goer (Carrie and I have very similar taste in movies). He started listening to your show when we moved from St. Louis to Austin, TX and I am almost positive he listened to you the whole 14 hour drive. Every time we get in the car or clean the house we turn on an episode to listen to!

    Love the content of each episode, but you theme song kills me! I find each of us singing “tune in, tune in, tune in to Alternate Endings” around the house, on walks with our dog, and even in the grocery store. Love it!

    Can’t wait to hear next week’s episode!

    • Carrie Jarosinski Carrie Jarosinski says:

      Well, this is just about the nicest comment. I’m glad you found us! And, it’s nice that your boyfriend and Tim have so much in common, Tim ALSO thinks he’s always right. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Rob teared-up about your theme song comment, that stick-to-your-brain-until-you-cant-stand-it jingle is his proudest accomplishment.

      Sidenote: Any idea how your boyfriend stumbled upon us?

  11. Hunter Allen says:

    They are indeed pretty fantastic.


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